It’s a truth that many HR directors don’t like to face: Employees who suffer from burn-out don’t always move on to another position or company. Instead, they disengage from their work and focus on the paycheck. People who no longer feel an intrinsic urge to excel and just put in their hours are a drain on your company. At the same time, people are more than just place-holders; these employees with significant burn-out may once have been some of your best and brightest. Here’s how to help them re-engage and to keep other employees’ engagement levels high.
Set Clear Goals
When people don’t understand what’s asked of them, they tune out. You may have experienced the phenomenon yourself, perhaps in a class you disliked or during a particularly dry board meeting at a previous job. To keep your personnel from reaching that point, make sure they know precisely what they need to do to excel. That means more than just handing down sales quotas from marketing and telling them to meet those numbers. It means giving them the tools they need to succeed, telling them how to use them and pointing the way to more help if it’s needed.
Make Those Goals Matter
Setting rigid quotas and standards might work for machines, but people like to see the big picture. Goals without context can feel arbitrary. Telling employees to move 50 units of a given product per week is useful enough on paper, but it means far more to your personnel when they know that 50 units per week from every sales associate is necessary to cover payroll, restock inventory and take care of overhead costs while maintaining profits. Put goals in greater context for employees, and they begin to see themselves as a part of that big picture. They’re no longer working toward some abstract figure but toward a concrete, collaborative goal.
Give Managers Adequate Training
One of the most commonly cited reasons for disengagement and distancing among employees is a sense that the management tier immediately above them is under-qualified or under-trained. People don’t give their best efforts for managers whom they feel they outrank in job or product knowledge. All your company’s supervisors and managers should have a thorough grounding in their job knowledge as well as their managerial skills. One way to ensure better job knowledge is by promoting from within whenever possible, a practice that itself helps keep employees engaged as they see real opportunities for advancement.
Link Authority and Responsibility
When polled about their greatest job frustrations, more employees pointed to a gap between authority and responsibility than to low wages, long hours or challenging clients. To put it more bluntly, an employee who’s expected to solve certain problems but doesn’t have the power to do so is being set up for failure. For example, if sales team members are expected to convert a given percentage of sales but have no latitude to offer discounts or incentives, they disengage. It’s their first step out the door, and without a change to that imbalanced equation, they will keep walking. Prevent this by keeping authority and responsibility closely linked.
Recognize Excellence Personally
Every HR director knows rewarding employees for stellar work promotes engagement, but not everyone knows how meaningful personal recognition can be. A personal note of thanks, either from you or from an employee’s supervisor, can transform that person’s outlook. You’re no longer just assigning goals and expecting people to meet them; you’re recognizing what it takes to meet those goals and rewarding the effort involved.